EDWARDSVILLE, IL (KSDK) - The former assistant finance director of the City of Wood River pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing more than $100,000 in city funds over a four year period, Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons said.
According to court documents, 42-year-old Leslie Dona was charged September 21, 2011 for stealing approximately $143,000 by manipulating software, altering reports and destroying records. She operated her scheme between 2007 and August 15, 2011, when she was reported missing by concerned coworkers.
Authorities located Dona later, after herinvolvement in a crash along Interstate 44 in southwest St. Louis County. Her car left the highway and drove down and back up one embankment, through a chain link fence and across the south outer road, before going down a second embankment and rolling over into a drainage ditch overgrown with weeds.
Witnesses helped rescue crews to identify the location of the vehicle in the overgrown vegetation. Rescue crews extricated Dona from her wrecked car before transporting her to the hospital with serious injuries.
Eureka police stopped Dona earlier that morning and then realized she was the missing person from Wood River. Investigators said they spoke to Dona while she was detained in Eureka and expressed their concern. Officers released Dona prior her crash.
Leslie Dona had been scheduled to meet with local auditors the day she went missing. Following an investigation by the Wood River Police Department, authorities discovered Dona's ongoing scheme.
Dona pleaded guilty to theft by deception and was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to compensate the city for the stolen funds.
Prosecutors obtained Dona's Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) pension, worth more than $30,000. All of her pensions and accounts were frozen, totaling almost $55,000. The City of Wood River also received another $50,000 through an insurance policy to cover acts of theft. Dona will make up the difference following her release from prison.